TOP weight gain performances by Merino lambs were a feature of the inaugural Thomas Foods International Booborowie Lamb Competition concluded last week.
The competition has so far raised about $7500 for the Booborowie community with more funds due in from lamb donations.
After a presentation dinner last Friday, organiser Leith Tilley said Merino lambs performed exceptionally well in the competition in which 69 teams of crossbred, Merino, SAMM and Dohne lambs were fed for 60 days in the Saltbush Ag Feedlot.
The competition attracted 21 crossbred teams, 34 Merino/SAMM/Dohne teams and 14 stud teams.
“Everyone expected the crossbred to well outperform the Merinos, but the top Merino lambs were pretty much equal with the crossbreds,” Mr Tilley said.
The winning teams had the most consistent lambs, but weight gain performance between lambs in teams varied by as much as 50 percent, he said.
“Which highlighted to me the power of using individual identification and record keeping.”
Individual identification of lamb performance might form part of the competition’s educational activities next year,” Mr Tilley said.
“I reckon that is one of the themes we will focus on next year.”
The top two lambs with the highest carcase value were both Merinos; entered by Gerald Mulligan, $184 value for a 36.3kg carcase, and North Ashrose Merinos, $181 value with a 35.7kg carcase.
Mr Tilley said the SA Merino breeders are focussing heavily on producing dual purpose sheep.
“While everyone understands that wool is important, that increased focus on lamb returns has been equally important, if not more so – I think that’s where the studs are going.
“That really reinforces the message that a good Merino is only marginally behind a crossbred, but if you take into consideration the wool cut off Merino lambs and ewes, it is certainly encouraging.”
The average daily weight gain for the 207 lambs in the competition was 215 grams. Merino, SAMM and Dohne lambs gained 214 grams a day on average and the mean crossbred lamb daily weight gain was 217 grams.
The top two lambs for weight gain in the crossbred section gained 393 gms/day (Roger Farley) and 391 gms/day (Troy Edwards), while the two best Merinos gained 379 gms/day (Pratt – Baderloo blood) and 360 gms/day (Andrew Mitchell – Leachim and Glendemar blood). The Hammat family’s SRS-registered Baderloo stud entries from Spalding, South Australia, came second in the stud teams section and a Pratt family commercial Merino entry was third in the Merino/SAMM/Dohne teams section.
The stud teams section was won by the Glenroy Poll Dorset Stud. Claughton SAMM teams from SA’s west coast placed first and second in the Merino/SAMM/Dohne teams section and the crossbred section was won by the Hazel family at Kapundawith Poll Dorset-Merino cross lambs.
The top individual value gains from the start of the trial to slaughter were recorded by Glenroy (Poll Dorset 97pc, Tom Riggs (Merino) 85pc and Claughton (SAMM) 85pc.
Weight gains plateau at day 42 in feedlot
Mr Tilley said the average weight gains dropped off after day 42 and the whole group average weight gain was 250gms a day at this point.
“We believe many lambs plateaued due to the higher than normal average entry weights into the competition and the lambs slowed once they got up in weight.
“Overall we would have expected better average daily growth rates and this is something we will be investigating more,” he said.
“It probably highlighted that once a lamb is ready, it is ready.
“Some of the lambs were nearly ready to go when they entered the feedlot.”
The average live to dressed weight yield for all entries was 47.6pc, with the Merino/SAMM/Dohne entries averaging 46pc and the crossbreds 48.5pc.
Crossbred team entrant Roger Farley from Strathalbyn donated his third prize — tickets to the football — which was auctioned off and raised a further $500 with Toby Cousins from Platinum Livestock buying them. The winner of Sheep Central prize was the Baderloo Merino Stud. John Scott won the $5000 Atlex Stockyards prize.
Sponsors of the Booborowie Lamb competition included Thomas Foods International, Landmark Burra, Platinum Ag Services, Bromar Engineering, Saltbush Ag, Atlex Stockyards, Sheep Central, Stock Journal, Lienert, Leader Producers and Bayer.
Click here for the Booborowie Lamb Competition team results.